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Britain’s daily Covid figures continued to plunge across the UK today as infections fell by 49.9 per cent in a week.
Department of Health bosses reported a further cases 70,924 cases today, a decrease from the 141,472 cases that were reported last Sunday.
Meanwhile there were another 88 deaths registered today – a 9.2 per cent fall from the 97 deaths reported on January 9.
The latest vaccination figures show that 25,880 first dose jabs, 39,709 second doses and 92,623 booster jabs were delivered on Saturday.
It brings the total number of people to have received at least two doses of a vaccine to 47,905,885 whilst 36,388,391 have received a booster jab.
It comes as chairman of the Conservative Party Oliver Dowden today gave a firm hint that Plan B restrictions will be lifted in England on January 26 as he said the latest coronavirus data ‘seems to be heading in the right direction’.
Mr Dowden said the numbers relating to Covid infections and hospitalisations were now ‘very promising’ and it had ‘always been his hope’ that Plan B restrictions would be implemented ‘for the shortest period possible’.
However, he cautioned that the Government will ‘await the data at the point of the decision before making that final decision’.
Meanwhile Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he expects almost all Covid curbs to end in a fortnight because ‘the data is moving in the right direction’.
There is a growing expectation in Westminster that Boris Johnson will lift Plan B measures when they are reviewed on January 26.
The move will mean the end of working from home guidance and Covid passes for entry to large venues being axed.
Travel testing rules could also be eased for fully-vaccinated travellers so they would no longer have to take a test on their return.
This week Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said modelling showed that the country could reach low numbers of infections by the middle of February.
He told The Times: ‘I think we will see hospitalisations start falling more quickly in the next week or so. The issue is when we get back to normal.’
Meanwhile intensive care doctor Richard Cree, from Middlesbrough, told Birmingham Live: ‘Numbers being admitted hasn’t risen as high as I feared.
‘It’s looking increasingly likely that we may be able to ride out the Omicron wave.’
It comes as the NHS prepares to offer booster jabs to under-18s from tomorrow.
Around 40,000 teenagers aged 16 and 17 will be eligible for their top-up dose when the national booking service opens on Monday, in the latest phase of the vaccine programme.
Previously, boosters were only recommended for clinically vulnerable 16 and 17-year-olds who were most at risk from Covid-19.
But recent data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has shown that two doses of the vaccine are not enough to stop people becoming unwell from Omicron, but a booster significantly increases protection against the variant.
The NHS has said more in the age group will be able to get boosted ‘in the coming weeks as they reach three months since their second jab’.
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and deputy lead for the NHS vaccination programme, said: ‘The NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme is expanding once again to offer eligible young people aged 16 and 17 the chance to book their boosters through the online booking service from tomorrow, with walk-in sites also available across the country, as the biggest and fastest vaccine drive in health service history continues at pace.
‘Covid has caused so much disruption for so many families over the past two years, affecting young people’s lives and education, and getting vaccinated protects them, their family and their friends, letting them stay at school and continue socialising.
‘We know that the best protection against coronavirus is to get vaccinated and I’d urge everyone, whatever your age, to come forward and get that vital top-up as soon as it is possible.’
More than 600,000 in the age group in England have had their second jab, and will be able to get boosted in the coming weeks as they reach three months after the second dose.
Since the vaccination programme rolled out to this age group in August, more than 889,700 teenagers in England – seven in 10 people aged 16 and 17 – have had their first dose.
The NHS said invitations will be sent out this week encouraging people in the age group to book their appointment through the online booking service, or by finding their nearest walk-in site.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘More than four in five adults in England have already been boosted, helping to protect them from severe illness and reduce the pressure on the NHS in the face of Omicron.
‘We’re now extending the programme to 16 and 17-year-olds so they can top-up their immunity this winter to keep themselves and their friends safe.
‘We can learn to live with Covid-19 if everybody comes forward for their vaccines and gets boosted now.’
Yesterday health chiefs remained cautious as figures showed daily infections were ‘plateauing’ in London, the South East and East of England.
Dr Hopkins said: ‘We see that infections are plateauing in the community, which is good, in London and the south east and the east of England.
‘There are still risings, but much slower in the northern parts of the country.
‘All of that means we are seeing a slowdown in the number of admissions to hospital but they are slowing down rather than reversing at the moment, so there are still more than 2,000 admissions to hospital across the UK, and nearly 2,500 yesterday.’
Chairman of the Conservative Party Oliver Dowden today gave a firm hint that Plan B restrictions will be lifted in England on January 26
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he expects almost all Covid curbs to end in a fortnight because ‘the data is moving in the right direction’
Dr Hopkins said hospitals had been able to discharge patients ‘faster’ due to Omicron being milder than previous coronavirus variants but that the NHS remained under ‘a lot of pressure’, with some trusts ‘unable to do much of their elective care’.
Meanwhile Prof Linda Bauld, a professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh and chief social policy adviser to the Scottish government, said Omicron cases in the UK appeared to be ‘stabilising’.
She told BBC Breakfast: ‘The cases, if we look at them, are going down by over 20 per cent.
‘In fact, yesterday I think was the last day, the first day for a while we’ve had less than 100,000 cases so things seem to moving in the right direction.’
However, she cautioned the number of patients in hospitals was still ‘very high’.
She added: ‘I think we’ve got more data this week that suggests more optimism, and let’s hope, as we continue, that trajectory will be consistent and we can feel we’ve got through what’s been a really, really tough period.’
Source: Daily Mail